Last week my friend and I ticked off another of the Dales 30 challenge, we were hoping to do too but the weather conspired against us!
We were climbing Ingleborough but we were also hoping to do Simon Fell too, which is only a short distance away. We walked from Clapham which is probably the most scenic route up, there are several routes up Ingleborough and we’ve done most of them over the years but as the days are getting shorter we decided the nearest and clearest route was probably the best.
Clapham is a very pretty village, we parked up near the old church so it was just a short walk to the path through the Ingleborough Estate. It was a lovely walk up past the waterfalls and past the lake. They’ve put up some information boards since we were last up and we were interested to read that this area is totally manmade, the early owners of Ingleborough Hall built a dam across the narrow valley to form both the lake and the waterfalls below.
The lake was lovely and peaceful with the autumn colour gently reflected, unfortunately I didn’t get a photo as I was lulled into a false sense of security thinking I could get one on the way back!
At the far end of the lake is the entrance to Ingleborough Cave, this is open for tours during the summer, there’s a footpath which goes about 500m in, it’s full of stalactites and stalagmites.
We carried on up towards Trow Gill, a steep gorge at the top of the valley. It’s a bit scrambly towards the top as you can see but we just took our time.
Trow Gill leads to the plateau before the final ascent of Ingleborough, the footpath passes close to Gaping Gill, this leads to a huge cavern, it’s so big you could fit York Minster in it. The local caving clubs organise trips down Gaping Gill a couple of times a year, you’re lowered down about 50′ or more on a bosuns chair one at a time, a few years ago I went down with friends and Helen, it was quite an experience. The stream that goes down Gaping Gill eventually comes out through Ingleborough Cave. Experienced cavers can trek through from Gaping Gill to Ingleborough cave, there’s a huge network of caves round there.
As you can see from the photo above, the mist had come down!! The higher we climbed the worse visibility got. The top of Ingleborough is quite a large, fairly flat plateau. Unfortunately it has about four paths leading off it is all directions and it’s very easy up there even in good weather to come off the wrong path and end up in the wrong valley.
According to the map there was a straight wall to follow from Ingleborough to Simon Fell, we were very dubious about whether we would be able to climb Simon’s Fell even before we reached the top of Ingleborough, it all depended on how clear the route by the wall was…
…that’ll be a no then!!
We couldn’t even see the dry stone wall seating area which marks the highest point! We had carefully taken a photo of one of the cairns we passed just before the top, so at least we would know we were on the right path down! Just as we reached the plateau there was a length of broken down wall, we sat on it and ate our sandwiches as we didn’t dare leave it and risk losing our sense of direction!
We saw two ladies trying to find a path down, they looked rather unsure so I called over to ask them which path they were looking for, they showed me a very simplified map on the mobile phone! I opened my OS map up and showed them where the other path went, we strongly advised them to stick to the clear (and popular) path down to Clapham rather than risk trying to find the quieter Pennine bridleway in poor weather especially without a proper map. It still amazes me that people will risk going walking in this kind of terrain without a proper map, signals fail, phones go dead, but also you can’t see the bigger picture to confirm where you are or which way to go. OS maps have walls, cairns, potholes, barns, lots of landscape features which all help to confirm where you are.
We retraced our steps to the path down to Clapham, at this point the weather was wind and rain, not the best weather for a walk, so it was head down and keep walking. Once we dropped down through Trow Gill again it was better, just a bit mizzly. It had improved enough by Ingleborough cave to sit on the seats for a welcome coffee and a sticky bun.
Altogether we walked nearly nine miles, we enjoyed ourselves despite the weather – if you walk in November in this country fine weather is a bonus! I think this will be the last of the Dales 30 this year as the days are getting too short for us slow walkers, we’ll do shorter more local walks over the winter and resume our challenge in the spring. We’ve walked eleven of the thirty, so over a third done, not a bad start!